Employment Law Changes for 6th April 2014
Unless otherwise stated, all of the undernoted changes will take place on 6th April and may have some impact on you and your business.
The changes are wide ranging.
For up to the minute comment on employment law issues please follow @emplawinverness on Twitter.
1. Discrimination questionnaires will be abolished
A discrimination questionnaire is a document that a Claimant could use to acquire statistical data about the composition of an employer’s workforce. These questionnaires were criticised by many as an unfair burden on employers. From 6th April, these will be abolished.
2. ACAS early conciliation will come into effect
This will be optional between 6 April and 5 May 2014 during which Early Conciliation will be available to prospective claimants. Early Conciliation will be mandatory for claims presented on or after 6 May 2014. ACAS will offer conciliation within a set period. If conciliation fails, the claimant may then proceed to lodge the claim. It remains to be seen whether ACAS will be given the resources to cope with the significant rise in the work that it will now be required to perform.
3. Financial penalties will be imposed on employers losing employment tribunal claims
Employment tribunals will have the power to impose financial penalties of between £100 – £5,000 on employers if they lose and it has “aggravating features”. The penalty will be payable to the Government.
The imposition of financial penalties will be discretionary and therefore will not apply to each and every case. Employment Tribunals will look at each case on its individual merits.
4. Health and Work Assessment and Advisory service will be introduced
This service will offer free occupational health assistance to employees, employers and GPs, including an independent assessment of employees who have been off sick for four weeks. It is intended to provide a new approach to managing sickness absence and is expected to be introduced in Spring 2014 but as yet we don’t know precisely when.
5. Statutory rates will increase
Social security benefits and payments increase on 6 April 2014. The payments affected by the legislation will increase by 1 percent in the tax year 2014/15.
In particular, as of 6 April 2014:
• Statutory sick pay will increase to £87.55 (up from £86.70).
• Statutory maternity pay will increase to £138.18 (up from £136.78).
• Statutory adoption pay, statutory paternity pay, and additional statutory paternity pay will increase to £138.18 (up from £136.78).
6. Compensation limits
The cap on the compensatory award will increase to £76,574 (up from £74,200) and the amount of a week’s pay will increase to £464 (up from £450).
The week’s pay figure is used for calculating statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal. Last July the cap on the compensatory award was changed so that the maximum award is now the lower of either 52 weeks’ gross pay or the upper statutory limit.
The new limits apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2014.
Whereas it had previously been reported that all employees will have the right to request flexible working as of 6 April 2014 this date has been pushed back to 30 June 2014.
The right to request flexible working will no longer be limited to parents and carers but will be available to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service.
The current statutory procedure for requesting flexible working will be abolished and will be replaced by a duty to consider requests in a reasonable manner. As a consequence employers will need to update their flexible working policies.
This Briefing has been produced for information purposes only and is based on the law and other information available at the time of writing. We cannot be held responsible for any losses incurred through acting or failing to act on the basis of anything contained in this Briefing.
If you require advice on any of the matters referred to, please contact us so that we can advise you, taking account of your own particular circumstances and requirements.